MASON — In a turn of events, members of the Mason Town Council rescinded a prior decision to establish a municipal fee in order to raise funds, and instead agreed to move forward with a municipal sales tax.
The action was taken at the most recent meeting, which was attended by Mayor Donna Dennis, Recorder Harley Stewart, and council members Sharon Kearns, Steve Ohlinger and Becky Pearson.
At a meeting earlier this month, the council voted to proceed with an ordinance that would include a new $2 municipal fee each month on the water bills. It was noted at the time that the town has been spending more money than it has been bringing in during recent years.
Although the town general fund had a carry over amount of over $187,000 at the end of the fiscal year on June 30, Dennis said that amount would be exhausted in a few years if the trend continues. She noted last year the town took in $460,000, but spent $490,000.
At last week’s meeting, however, the mayor said she and Recorder Stewart did not write the ordinance for the fee, but determined more money could be made by establishing a municipal sales tax.
“A sales tax would be more beneficial,” said Dennis. “We looked over our budget and revenue, and we can’t make any cuts. The things we are buying are necessary.”
A municipal sales tax would add an additional amount, up to one percent, onto purchases made within the town and that money would go to the town. Not included in the tax would be food, prescription drugs, vehicles and motor fuel.
Dennis said the tax would allow the municipality to pave streets, buy playground equipment, hire two more employees, and continue health insurance coverage for workers.
She said the process takes between six and eight months, and if started now, could be in place to begin July 1, 2020. One stipulation in establishing the tax is the reduction or elimination of the town’s business and occupation tax. Dennis said she would like to see the town keep the B&O tax, but cut it in half.
While the council voted to proceed with the sales tax, members agreed to wait until the Sept. 5 meeting to decide the amount of the tax, as well as what to do with the present B&O tax.
The mayor said she feels better about the decision because residents would have had no choice in paying the municipal fee on their water bills. People will have a choice if they want to shop in town and pay the additional sales tax, she added.
(More on the council meeting regular business in an upcoming edition.)
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.